Bad Bunny’s Yankee Stadium Concerts Demonstrated the Power of the Latinx Collective
Bad Bunny has been on a roll, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping to slow down any time soon. While his career has been skyrocketing for the past few years, this year has been especially significant. He’s become one of the most streamed artists – and not just in Latin or reggaeton music, but globally. And his latest album, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” which we’ve all had on repeat since its drop, is proof of that. But if you need any further evidence of the impact the Puerto Rican artist has on NYC’s musical landscape and culture, look no further than the back-to-back concerts at Yankee Stadium that took place this past weekend and were part of his World’s Hottest Tour.
Like many, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” has taken up a lot of space in my life. It’s usually part of my daily album rotation, and when I’m not actually listening to it, I’m reminded of its magic constantly by others expressing their love for it, or memes, or merch. The show on Saturday, Aug. 27, opened with a DJ set from Diplo, who got the crowd hyped and energised before Bad Bunny took the stage. The stage – like his album – was dedicated to all things summer. Benito began his performance by relaxing on a beach chair before singing “Moscow Mule,” which immediately resulted in a crowd full of people either raising their phones to record a story or raising their Puerto Rican or Dominican flag. I even saw some Yankee jerseys raised at one point. All of this to say that this was a jam-packed stadium full of mostly proud Latinx New Yorkers. And if there’s one thing proud Latinx New Yorkers do is show the eff up. We showed up loud and proud, some alone, some with friends, some even with their Latinx families – abuelas, kids, and all – but we showed up. We came ready for a good time but also ready to embrace that tonight was going to be our night.
Not only did Bad Bunny showcase a killer performance himself, but so did all of his guest performers, including Chencho Corleone, Jowell & Randy, Romeo Santos (king of bachata and the Bronx), Arcangel, and María Zardoya from The Marías. Each performance seemed to excite the audience even more than the one before it. But what really made this show stand out in a way I’m not used to seeing is the way it brought us all together as a collective. For a second, it almost felt like every Latinx in NYC was at that stadium – the orgullo was felt. And not just by those of us at the actual show but also by folks throughout the neighbourhood. When I arrived at Yankee Stadium, it seemed like every restaurant surrounding the stadium was doing some type of Bad Bunny theme or special. The streets were filled with local Latinx Bad Bunny merch sellers and food-cart owners. When I left the show a few minutes before it actually ended in an effort to actually get myself an Uber back to Queens, I ran into numerous friend groups and even families parked outside of the stadium. Many of them had beach chairs, coolers, and snacks and were dancing and listening to the music that you could hear from miles away.
It felt as though for the few hours that this show would run, every Latinx person at the show, parked outside the stadium, or working at their nearby business had made the intentional decision to grant themselves a few hours of joy.
It felt as though for the few hours that this show would run, every Latinx person at the show, parked outside the stadium, or working at their nearby business had made the intentional decision to grant themselves a few hours of joy. Regardless of what they might be experiencing in their lives, whether it’s a financial hardship, a family crisis, a health issue, a job they are dying to quit but feel they can’t, work burnout, or whatever it may be, everyone in those few hours was going to allow themselves to not just experience but marinate in joy.
I know for myself, even attending alone since I only had one press pass and so couldn’t bring a plus one, I quickly thought of my ancestors. I thought of my bis abuelos and the ones before them (the ones who never left the Dominican Republic), and how proud they would be to see me celebrating with floor seats at the concert of the hottest artist right now. The hottest artist in the world right now who also happens to be a reggaetonero from Puerto Rico, who was bagging groceries before becoming a music artist and who has refused to make music in English or that’s digestible for white Americans. How proud would they be to see a stadium filled with flags that represent almost every country in Latin America with a crowd of folks who refuse to assimilate or whitewash who they are? As I looked around, I found myself smiling as I took the experience in. Here I was with a generation of Latinxs filled with pride, joy, and nonstop Latinx orgullo.
It reminds us of the power we possess as a community and as a collective and the magic we release when we really put our minds and our hearts toward something.
I got into a graceful argument with someone a few months ago who tried to debate me on Bad Bunny’s relevance, not just as a music artist but on our culture overall. When he asked me which previous icons I would compare Benito to, I quickly said Michael Jackson. Yes, it’s a major comparison to make. I hear it. But I also can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this many people across the world this excited over an artist. I haven’t really seen it in this way since MJ. Bad Bunny really connects with his fans and his community in a way I haven’t witnessed in decades. And for a Latinx artist, seeing this kind of global fame and appreciation doesn’t just bring us pride as a community, but it gives us hope. It reminds us that even though we still have a very long way to go when it comes to racial and ethnic equality, we still have made some major strides. It reminds us of the power we possess as a community and as a collective, and the magic we release when we really put our minds and our hearts toward something.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, Bad Bunny made an appearance at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards live from his second Yankee Stadium performance, where he performed “Tití Me Preguntó” and accepted the award for artist of the year. He made history as the first non-English-language artist to win in this category. Did I mention his acceptance speech was entirely in Spanish?
At the end of his Saturday performance, Benito held a huge Puerto Rican flag and huddled together with his stage dancers. I missed this because, as I mentioned earlier, your girl wasn’t trying to get stranded at Yankee Stadium without an Uber for hours. But the following day, I saw folks posting the concert finale on Instagram. With everything currently happening in this country at the border and the corruption, modern colonialism, and gentrification happening on the island of Puerto Rico, waving that flag meant so much more than just Puerto Rican pride. Holding that flag was a form of resistance. For many of us, it serves to say Latinxs in the States aren’t going anywhere. We’re just getting started.